3 Ways to Stay Relevant in Modern Manufacturing

As manufacturers add more and more technology to production plants and manufacturing spaces, you may be thinking: How can I remain relevant and marketable? Rest assured. Your skills are needed.

“Investing in technology is ultimately about investing in the people who make that technology,” writes Benjamin Hernandez. Strengthen your technical skills, obtain relevant certifications and if possible, work in a durable sub-sector. More than 75 percent of manufacturers report a moderate to severe shortage of skilled workers. If you’re qualified, there’s a job for you.

Here are three ways to increase your marketability:

1. Improve your technical and computer skills. 70 percent of manufacturing execs say the most serious skill deficiency is technical and computer skills. To address this, many manufacturers offer internal employee training. Upskill or re-skill by taking advantage of internal development programs or outside opportunities like these:

  • Online manufacturing courses like VLSI CAD or G-Code Programming for CNC Foundations on sites like Coursera, Lynda or Udemy.
  • Seminars, workshops and luncheons hosted by local manufacturers associations.
  • Computer courses like Excel or Access offered by a nearby college or library.

2. Specialize in complex production processes. Between 2015-2025, two million manufacturing jobs are expected to go unfilled due to the skills gap. Roles are changing because of automation. For example, equipment maintenance supervisors must do more than supervise technicians and manage equipment repair; they must also understand robotics and controls engineering, reports Harvard Business Review. Use company money to earn some extra credentials like a certificate in robotics manufacturing, manufacturing engineering or welding.

3. Work in a durable subsector. Since durable subsectors like aircraft, cars, machinery and medical equipment produce heavier goods that are often more expensive to ship, these subsectors tend to be more competitive in the domestic U.S. market. In addition, they have more complex production processes—requiring greater skills and expensive technology.

Since these sub-sectors are at the forefront of modern manufacturing, they are creating new jobs like robot engineers and machine learning systems engineers. To fill the new positions, manufacturers are training current employees to assume these new roles. If you’re searching for your next opportunity, focus on joining these sub-sectors—they will keep you up-to-speed, employed and relevant.Yes, factories are getting new machines, but they still need humans.